Showing posts with label science. Show all posts
Showing posts with label science. Show all posts

Sunday, August 7, 2016

The Problem With Media Reports On Studies About Video Game Violence

We've all read the headlines. "Video Games Lead To Violent Behaviour." "Video Games Cause Immoral Behaviour In Teens." "Video Games Lead To Aggression." The question is, are the conclusions drawn in these reports backed up by the science they are reporting on? My contention is that they absolutely are not and I will use a recent study to demonstrate where they are going wrong.

The study in question, conducted in Italy and published in the online journal Social Psychological and Personality Science, looked at how violent video games influenced post play morality in teenagers. The researchers recruited 172 high school students (aged thirteen to nineteen) and separated them into two groups. The first group was tasked with playing a violent video game. The second group was given nonviolent games to play. After both groups played the games, they were directed to complete a logic test, and every time they achieved a correct answer they were allowed to remove a raffle ticket from a bag. The teens were left alone in a room to do this, and upon completion of the study the researchers found that those who had played violent video games prior to taking the logic test were eight times more likely to remove more than the one raffle ticket from the bag when they correctly completed a section on the logic test.

The authors noted that the teens who showed signs of 'moral disengagement' were the most affected by playing violent video games. Moral disengagement is the ability to remove oneself from the normal rules of morality in certain situations because, in the view of the people who show this trait,  morality does not apply in certain situations. The teens with this trait were much more likely to steal after playing a violent game. A nonviolent game did not trigger as large a discrepancy between the two groups.

A study like this is perfect fodder for one of those media frenzies mentioned earlier. According to the study, the teens, especially those who score highly on "moral disengagement" scales were more likely to take extra raffle tickets; to steal, essentially. At the very least, to cheat. Not good, right? Obviously the violent video games are having a negative effect, one that was not seen to the same degree in the group that played non violent games. Seems like an open and shut case on the face of it. Except it's not. At all.

Sunday, June 5, 2016

Taking Reality for Granted?

Taking Reality for Granted?

We all have senses, and we use our senses to perceive the world around us. The sum total of our sensory perception is the input to which we ascribe the characteristic of reality. When we do this, we are effectively saying that what we sense around us is what exists around us, and we use this information to guide us as we move about the world in which we live. However, there is a problem inherent within this methodology, as philosophers have been noting for millenia: We cannot be certain that reality is as we perceive it, since the perceptions that we cite as evidence are necessarily subjective, and are devoid of external, independent confirmation of their accuracy. Or are they? This is the question I'd like to address.

Monday, April 13, 2015

In Defense Of 'Crazy' Stay At Home Moms

We all know the trope of the 'crazy' suburban mom; you know,  the one who screams at her kids and husband all day despite being medicated to the gills with pharmacological agents and vodka coolers and while I have done my share of sneering at them to myself and others (shitty behaviour around kids is hard not to sneer at) I have been thinking a lot about these women and what might be at the root of the problem and I think that "they're just crazy" isn't fair and what really may be going on is totally not their fault but actually the fault of the way we engineered post-industrialization/post-agricultural societies.

If you travel back in time to say 50,000 years ago, what was the life of a mother like? Were they alone, separated into individual houses, or together as a community, dealing with everyone's' kids all at once?

It was the latter.

Assuming we all agree on this point, (and how can't we; I'm always right after all, right C-man? fuma!) what can we take from this? Well, it logically follows that evolving to raise kids in a community would lead women of future generations to basically needing said communities for support and ultimately, optimal mental health. So, separating into houses all along a street and living in their own little worlds with their kids and hubbies (when home from work) could possibly be setting them up for failure. Living contrary to ones' nature is a recipe for mental illness, right?

If we think about the nature of women, are they more oriented towards being solitary or in groups? I think we all know the answer. They are definitely wired towards being hive minded. Men are generally the more solitary creatures. So, in the interest of fairness here, is it really any wonder that once they are separated into individual homes alone with their kid(s) all day that they go "crazy?" They are living without the social support networks they evolved to need!

I always think/talk about how the way this culture is engineered is really bad for men, but I am starting to consider the possibility that it's bad for women as well. It's bad for all of us, I think. One day I'll stop being so lazy and really dig into this idea and post a detailed, cogent, thought out piece about it. I really think there's a lot about the way we are living that we need to rethink. I'm just so lazy.....damn culture's fault!

Thursday, April 3, 2014

"I'm Already Bored With My Marriage" Marriage Advice From Logan at Cosmopolitan Magazine (And Then The Truth, From Me)

Ask Logan, taken from COSMO

I’ve been married for a year, but with my husband for almost five years all together. Within the past seven months, I have felt like we are drifting apart. When we’re together, we have nothing to talk about or everything he says annoys me. We are often in the same room together playing on our phones because there’s nothing to talk about. I was recently contacted by an old fling, someone I had a huge crush on for about five years and was good friends with. We only slept together twice but never actually dated. While talking to this guy, I felt giddy and all my previous feelings resurfaced. It felt as though I had never met my husband. I am conflicted and don’t know what I should do. I love my husband dearly, but I honestly feel bored with our relationship.
Their response:

Unfortunately, you’re not alone. There’s often a lull, right after the excitement of the engagement and the thrill of the wedding, when the honeymoon period peters out and two new spouses suddenly realize that they’re not newlyweds anymore: They’re just another married couple, sitting in another living room, playing Candy Crush on separate phones. And since you were together for four years before the wedding, I’m sure you have those days when you think that the wedding didn’t change much: that you are, in some sense, right back where you started.
You sound so disconnected — and you mention twice that you’re unable to even talk to each other. So, of course, this old flame rekindled some old passion. There’s nothing wrong with a little flirting: Everyone flirts a little. It feels good to be desired. But you have to know your limits (and your partner’s limits), and right now, you seem dangerously confused. It’s one thing to flirt harmlessly when you know it’s not going anywhere, but you’re playing with fire when you’re unhappy in your marriage and don’t know what you want. It’s probably not worth the risk. So think this through.
You say you love him dearly, so if you do, do not strike up some ill-conceived affair. It’s only been a year since you took your vows, so it’s too early to get complacent, and it’s too early to become fatalistically convinced that nothing is ever going to change. You’ve got to focus on your marriage and not distract yourself. So, before you do anything else, tell your husband how you’re feeling: Don’t let quiet resentment gnaw away at your relationship from the inside. Start a discussion about how the reality of your marriage is different from your expectations. And try to get a handle on what’s going on in his head too. He doesn’t sound that happy, either.
Then maybe do something pro-active. This might sound cheesy, but maybe you should break up the monotony with a vacation. Get out of that house where you’re always on your phones. Take a break, even if it’s just for a weekend. Try to talk and have fun and reconnect.
And try to stop thinking about this former crush. Since you are distraught, I’d recommend that you cut him out of your life until you know what you want. Think about it: There are probably reasons you only slept with this old flame and never dated him. And there are certainly many more reasons you loved your husband so much that you put a ring on his finger.
Now reality, courtesy of me:

Dear everyone who writes a litter like this:
The truth is, monogamy is not our biological norm and as such marriage is contrary to our nature. This sort of stuff will ALWAYS happen because the situation you're in is stupid to begin with and if we had been taught reality from the start no one would be in this mess.

Signed,

reality.

Friday, February 14, 2014

The Problem With Media Reports On Video Game Violence Studies

We've all read the headlines. "Video Games Lead To Violent Behaviour." "Video Games Cause Immoral Behaviour In Teens." "Video Games Lead To Aggression." The question is, are the conclusions drawn in these reports backed up by the science they are reporting on? My contention is that they absolutely are not and I will use a recent study to demonstrate where they are going wrong.

The study in question, conducted in Italy and published in the online journal Social Psychological and Personality Science, looked at how violent video games influenced post play morality in teenagers. The researchers recruited 172 high school students (aged thirteen to nineteen) and separated them into two groups. The first group was tasked with playing a violent video game. The second group was given nonviolent games to play. After both groups played the games, they were directed to complete a logic test, and every time they achieved a correct answer they were allowed to remove a raffle ticket from a bag. The teens were left alone in a room to do this, and upon completion of the study the researchers found that those who had played violent video games prior to taking the logic test were eight times more likely to remove more than the one raffle ticket from the bag when they correctly completed a section on the logic test.

The authors noted that the teens who showed signs of 'moral disengagement' were the most affected by playing violent video games. Moral disengagement is the ability to remove oneself from the normal rules of morality in certain situations because, in the view of the people who show this trait,  morality does not apply in certain situations. The teens with this trait were much more likely to steal after playing a violent game. A nonviolent game did not trigger as large a discrepancy between the two groups.

A study like this is perfect fodder for one of those media frenzies mentioned earlier. According to the study, the teens, especially those who score highly on "moral disengagement" scales were more likely to take extra raffle tickets; to steal, essentially. At the very least, to cheat. Not good, right? Obviously the violent video games are having a negative effect, one that was not seen to the same degree in the group that played non violent games. Seems like an open and shut case on the face of it. Except it's not. At all.

Monday, November 18, 2013

Honestly....How Can Anyone TRULY Believe in a Soul?

There are 2 obvious things that basically discredit the idea of a soul (and, by extension, an afterlife), and I do not see how thinking people can say they honestly believe in a soul.

1) Eyes. If souls can look down on us from heaven. that means they can see. So why do we have eyes? Isn't that rather redundant? And why is it that blind people are blind? They should still be able to see, even if their eyes do not function, since our souls can see. The existence of eyes and damage to the eyes resulting in blindness or at least some degree of vision impairment is said by most people to be because the eyes are quite simply the only mechanism through which we humans can take in visual stimuli which our brains can then process. Pit that against the idea that there is a soul and things like vision and consciousness (see the next point) are received by the brain rather than generated by it and apply Occam's Razor. I think it is pretty clear which of the two ideas is wishful thinking/nonsense.

2) The brain. Our souls are supposed to be us. Who we are. Our personality, our identity.......yet, changes in brain function alter our personality. It can change "who we are." Brain damage can make someone forever unrecognisable to even their families. How could this be? Some people, in response to this query, will posit the "transistor radio" hypothesis of consciousness, which, for those who do not know, is the idea that the brain acts as a receiver of consciousness rather than the catalyst for it. So according to this conception of consciousness, brain damage would alter behaviour not because the structures and electrochemical activity of the brain is responsible for said behaviour but rather due to the fact that the brain acts as a receiver for consciousness signals, and if a radio is damages the signal reception will be altered.

The problem with this idea, other than the fact that it is clearly just a way to rationalize away the evidence that runs contrary to the idea of a soul is that it doesn't explain things like dissociative identity disorder.

Tuesday, July 23, 2013

Being Single Is Selfish....Sure, But Relationships Are Just As Selfish

Find that shocking? Ridiculous? Demeaning? Insulting, even? Okay, tell me: Why do YOU get into relationships then? Why does anyone?

(Note: This is a follow up of sorts to an earlier post I did regarding the selfishness of having kids. Click HERE if you want to read that one.)

 Here are some (arguably) selfless reasons (I say arguably given the selfish altruism theory popular in some psychology circles):

Monday, May 27, 2013

Religion and Masturbation

I recently watched a movie entitled 'Teeth.' The movie (which wasn't very good but I digress), an indie horror with some comedic elements (it mostly failed on both fronts....some of it was amusing, none of it was scary, but again, digressing...), is about a very religious teenage girl who has taken a vow of 'purity' (aka abstinence) and goes around to other schools prattling on to younger kids and other teens about the 'evils' of sex and how it's only right to save your 'gift' until marriage, and blah blah.

Anyways, one day, this chick is sexually assaulted by a guy that she was starting to date. Not long after this guy forcefully enters her, his penis is bitten off and he dies. You see, her vagina has a set of teeth inside of it (hence the name of the movie) that clamp down and bite anything that enters her, unless she wants it in there and is completely comfortable (this aspect of her fucked up sexuality is discovered later in the movie). Any discomfort and CHOMP! So, throughout the course of the movie, a few penises and some fingers get bitten off, and magx01 gets a laugh or two watching this happen.

Watching this movie got me thinking (and in the mood to rant) about religion and its attitude towards human sexuality. One obvious area of immense damage done by religion is homosexuality. Another is premarital sex (abstinence being a big focus of the movie in question). However, I am going to avoid these particular aspects of sexuality for this blog and focus specifically on masturbation.

Monday, March 25, 2013

Theism and Belief: Why is the Burden on Us?

An atheist and a theist engage in a friendly debate about the topic of god; specifically, whether or not one exists. The crux of the atheists' argument is essentially that the evidence for the existence of a god is lacking and has not led to the acceptance (on the part of said atheist) of the hypothesis that such a being exists. The theists' bottom line sentiment is that the evidence is sufficient for people all around the world (him or herself included) and it is up to the atheist to accept this evidence/open their heart/be open minded etc (there are many platitudes that are used in this situation).

This discussion has taken place innumerable amounts of times throughout history, and I don't see any reason to believe that it will not continue to do so for at least the foreseeable future. What I find particularly striking about this fact is that the existence of god is one of the few topics for which it is acceptable to claim that the burden of belief/being convinced lies not on the strength of the evidence put forth to bolster the claim but rather on the target(s) of said claims. A few other topics for which this is true are UFO's, bigfoot and the Illuminati/New World Order. Would anyone care to venture a guess as to what it is that these topics have in common? 

There is no proof that any of them exist (none of them do in my not so humble opinion). 

Monday, March 4, 2013

10 Stubborn Body Myths (Popular with Moms!!!) Debunked by Science. Tell Your Mom!!

Sitting Too Close To The TV Can Damage Kids Eyes/Vision? Nope! Catching A Cold From Cold/Wet Weather? Nope! Moms all around the world, we, your sons all across the world, have a quote for you: "I'm not the type of guy to who says I told a so but you you know what? I fuckin a told a so." -Ricky (The Trailer Park Boys.)

http://lifehacker.com/5873922/10-stubborn-body-myths-that-just-wont-die-debunked-by-science

Thursday, November 29, 2012

Hey, Global Warming Deniers! We Need to Have a Little Chat!

For you Global Warming deniers out there, I have a few things to say to you:

-Be wary of any research coming out against GW/GCC/AGW/AGCC. Check where it's coming from. Is it peer reviewed, and published in an accredited scientific journal? Or is it not (careful too, as now people in the denier communities for both global warming and evolution are starting to catch on to this and are forming their own journals, and claiming to be accredited and peer reviewed, so always, always look the journal up if it's not instantly recognizable). There's a huge difference between a study published in Nature and one published in some no name journal with author publishing and no peer review. Or ones coming from a think tank. A think tank that, if you do a bit of digging, you will find out is funded by Exxon Mobil and Sean Hannity.

-Be very skeptical of anyone in the media speaking out against global warming, and listen carefully to their arguments/claims. If they are making any that aren't obviously fallacious upon first hearing/reading/seeing them (like Limbaugh's argument from incredulity) look them up. Also, look the person up. Find out who's funding them. Who they work for.

-If any scientists speak out against global warming, pay attention to what discipline of science they are experts in. When a biologist or a chemist expresses doubt about global warming, appealing to that in an argument is nothing but an appeal to authority. Their expertise is not in climatology. Being as smart as they may be, and knowing what they know about their area of science affords them NO special bonuses when it comes to climatology. They're just a layman like myself, and can easily be wrong.

Wednesday, August 8, 2012

The Milky Way Seen From Mars. PIC!!!


Wednesday, May 16, 2012

First Gene Therapy Successful Against Aging-Associated Decline

"A new study consisting of inducing cells to express telomerase, the enzyme which -- metaphorically -- slows down the biological clock -- was successful. The research provides a "proof-of-principle" that this "feasible and safe" approach can effectively "improve health span."

http://www.sciencedaily.com/releases/2012/05/120514204050.htm

For the lazy, researchers in Madrid have successfully "demonstrated that the mouse lifespan can be extended by the application in adult life of a single treatment acting directly on the animal's genes." What they have done is injected telomerase enzymes into adult mice (they used a virus that acts on DNA as a base but replaced the viral genes with those of the telomerase enzymes) and they report that the enzymes have taken effect to the point where they not only repair shortened telomeres (the ends or 'caps' of chromosomes that protect the cell and allow it to divide- when telomeres become shortened to the point of no longer being useful, the cells stop dividing and ages/dies) but they were actually rebuilt. Thus, they end up with rejuvenated cells and an increased lifespan (13-24% depending on the age of the treated mice).

This is AMAZING!

Now, I wonder if they could engineer a way to inhibit telomerase so as to limit cell division ....bye bye cancer?

Tuesday, February 14, 2012

Treatable STD Scarier Than Fatal Flu

http://www.livescience.com/18461-treatable-sti-scarier-fatal-flu.html


Passing someone a sexually transmitted infection is viewed as worse than giving them the flu — even if the flu turns out to be fatal, a new study finds. The stigma surrounding STIs can keep people from getting tested, discussing testing with partners or disclosing to partners that they do have an infection, Moor said. She and her colleagues wanted to understand how much stigma really influences people's perceptions of these diseases. To do so, the researchers gathered 1,158 volunteers via the Internet and had each read a short paragraph about someone transmitting either the H1N1 flu, also called swine flu, or chlamydia to another person. Though H1N1 usually causes nothing more than a few days of misery, people with compromised immune systems, the elderly and the very young can die of it.



In every scenario in the study, "Christina" or "James" feels a little ill, but shrugs off the symptoms, goes to a party and has sex with a fellow partygoer. In some cases, this sexual encounter transmits chlamydia to their partner. In other cases, it transmits H1N1. After reading one of these scenarios, each participant answered a series of questions about how selfish, risky and all-around irresponsible they would rate either Christina or James.


Keeping a sexual mode of transmission constant was meant to control for any automatic "sex is taboo" reactions from participants, Moor said. But despite the fact that the characters James and Christina acted sexually identically in all scenarios, chlamydia seemed to strike extra fear into participants' hearts.When Christina or James were said to have transmitted chlamydia, people judged them harshly, ranking them as almost as selfish and risky as was possible in the survey. When H1N1 was the disease in question, however, people rated the transmitter much more generously. Even when the sexual partner actually died of H1N1, transmitting chlamydia was seen as much more risky and irresponsible than transmitting the flu.


"It's quite confusing," Moor said. "If sex is taboo and that's why people are thinking STIs are so stigmatized, we just nipped that in the bud. We're showing that you can get H1N1 through sex, but it's still not stigmatized."

This is something that I have considered for some time, and I am glad it is finally garnering attention in the scientific community. While the findings seem to concur with my feelings on the subject, I do have one criticism to make: They say that it is inexplicable that people view STI's in a harsher light than they do say the flu, even if both are transmitted sexually. They say that they controlled for the "sex is taboo" factor by making sexual activity the mode of transmission in each scenario. However, I think they are missing one crucial point: STI's are linked, in people's minds, with sex, while the flu is not. And this is quite likely directly resultant of the taboo nature of sex in North American culture.

Thoughts?

Sunday, February 12, 2012

Namibia sponge fossils are world's first animals: study

http://news.yahoo.com/namibia-sponge-fossils-worlds-first-animals-study-203340973.html


Scientists digging in a Namibian national park have uncovered sponge-like fossils they say are the first animals, a discovery that would push the emergence of animal life back millions of years.
The tiny vase-shaped creatures' fossils were found in Namibia's Etosha National Park and other sites around the country in rocks between 760 and 550 million years old, a 10-member team of international researchers said in a paper published in the South African Journal of Science.
That means animals, previously thought to have emerged 600 million to 650 million years ago, actually appeared 100 million to 150 million years before that, the authors said.
It also means the hollow globs -- about the size of a dust speck and covered in holes that allowed fluid to pass in and out of their bodies -- were our ancestors, said co-author Tony Prave, a geologist at the University of St Andrews in Scotland.

Read the rest at the link above.

I find this doubly fascinating, as it acts both as a furthering of our knowledge of our origins and a tentative confirmation of the 'molecular clock' method of dating.

Friday, December 16, 2011

Christopher Hitchens is Dead :(

"R.I.P." Christopher Hitchens :(

December 16th, 2011: The day the world lost one of its most prolific social, cultural and political analysts, and a voice of reason that, if the tides of time are fair and true, shall echo down throughout the ages and resonate with all who hear it.

Saturday, November 26, 2011

Words to Live By

Every so often in our lives, we experience discouragement. No one is immune to it, although of course, life being the way it is, some of us experience it more than others. Quantitative assessments aside, we all experience it at some point in our lives.

It is during these times that many of us look to others for inspiration. I know I do on occasion. One of the people to whom I turn is Carl Satan. Although he is no longer with us, his words live on forever, powered by their ability to challenge, to probe, and most of all, to inspire.

Who do you look to, and what is it that they said that inspires you? Let me know in the comment section.

Thursday, November 17, 2011

Taking Reality for Granted?

Taking Reality for Granted?

We all have senses, and we use our senses to perceive the world around us. The sum total of our sensory perception is the input to which we ascribe the characteristic of reality. When we do this, we are effectively saying that what we sense around us is what exists around us, and we use this information to guide us as we move about the world in which we live. However, there is a problem inherent within this methodology, as philosophers have been noting for millenia: We cannot be certain that reality is as we perceive it, since the perceptions that we cite as evidence are necessarily subjective, and are devoid of external, independent confirmation of their accuracy. Or are they? This is the question I'd like to address.

Wednesday, September 7, 2011

Saving Lives With Biomedical Engineering


When biomedical engineering scientist Erin Lavik received the prestigious New Innovator Award last year from the National Institutes of Health for her work in advancing the development of synthetic (artificial) blood platelets, she was already becoming known in biomedical circles as a rising researcher.
Erin's laboratory at Case Western Reserve University, where she is currently an associate professor of Biomedical Engineering, was attracting attention for its focus on developing new approaches to understand and treat hemorrhaging, spinal cord injury, glaucoma, and diseases of the retina and optic nerve.
Recently (as noted by the New Innovator Award), she and her team at Case Western have received recognition for using nanotechnology -- an emerging scientific field that manipulates material on very small scales -- to build synthetic platelets of biodegradable polymers which are designed to link with the body's natural platelets to slow or stop bleeding faster after injury.

Says Erin: "We were looking for ways to control internal bleeding in our experiments, and we were stunned at how limited the options are, so we built our own system." Synthetic blood platelets made with nanoparticles may help slow internal bleeding, saving lives on the battlefield and following other traumatic injuries such as those sustained in auto accidents.
Can you think of some other applications for synthetic blood platelets?
Read more about AT&T sponsored Nifty Fifty program speaker Erin Lavik here.
And watch Erin's speech on tissue engineering and treatment of spinal cord injury: